What is the Flu?
Turn on the TV any evening to the local news channel lately and inevitably the story will segue to the Flu. Recent outbreaks within the past month have made headlines with fear striking the hearts of many as mortality statistics accompany reports. Bottom line – the flu is rampant throughout the United States and data shows outbreaks continue to increase in locale and within the general populace. Unfortunately, the disease does not run its course before taking many of its victims to a critical state, even death.
So just what is the Flu? According to the Mayo Clinic:
Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza, commonly called the flu, is not the same as the stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Influenza and its complications can be deadly. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:
• Young children
• Older adults
• Pregnant women
• People with weakened immune systems
• People who have chronic illnesses
The Federal Government goes further to categorize the Flu for identification purposes:
Seasonal (or common) flu is a respiratory illness that can be transmitted person to person. Most people have some immunity, and a vaccine is available.
Novel H1N1 flu is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in the U.S. in April 2009, and has spread to many countries around the world.
Bird flu is commonly used to refer to Avian flu (see below). Bird flu viruses infect birds, including chickens, other poultry and wild birds such as ducks.
Avian flu (AI) is caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally among wild birds. Low pathogenic AI is common in birds and causes few problems. Highly pathogenic H5N1 is deadly to domestic fowl, can be transmitted from birds to humans, and is deadly to humans. There is virtually no human immunity and human vaccine availability is very limited.
Pandemic flu is virulent human flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because there is little natural immunity, the disease can spread easily from person to person. (www.flu.gov)
Recently, the seasonal flu has increased in numbers typically affecting a younger-aged populace this season. The primary culprit is the H1N1 virus which is the same strain that caused the 2009 pandemic. With the outbreak anticipated to reach its peak sometime in January or February, the CDC continues to urge non-vaccinated individuals to get their flu shot. “It’s still not too late,” states one spokesperson. H1N1 is covered in the vaccination offered this year so receiving it would be a good defense against contracting that virus.
SureFire CPR encourages Orange County residents to seek medical care should symptoms become unmanageable or the flu victim experiences difficulty breathing or chest pain. Knowing how to care for a loved one in such an emergency is invaluable, particularly during the flu season. Courses offered through SureFire CPR can help. Obtaining your Flu shot and speaking with your primary care physician about concerns related to the Flu is the right thing to do.